Do Employers Prefer Fathers? Evidence from a Field Experiment Testing the Gender by Parenthood Interaction Effect on Callbacks to Job Applications

Bygren, Magnus , Gähler, Michael Anni Erlandsson | 2017

European Sociological Review, 2017, Vol. 33, No. 3, 337–348

In research on fatherhood premiums and motherhood penalties in career-related outcomes, employers’ discriminatory behaviours are often argued to constitute a possible explanation for observed gender gaps. However, there is as yet no conclusive evidence of such discrimination. Utilizing a field experiment design, we test (i) whether job applicants are subject to recruitment discrimination on the basis of their gender and parenthood status, and (ii) whether discrimination by gender and parenthood is conditional on the qualifications required by the job applied for. We applied for 2,144 jobs in the Swedish labour market, randomly assigning gender and parenthood status to fictitious job applicants. Based on the rate of callbacks, we do not find that employers practise systematic recruitment discrimination on the basis of the job applicants’ gender or parental status, neither in relation to less qualified nor more highly qualified jobs.

European Sociological Review, 2017, Vol. 33, No. 3, 337–348

In research on fatherhood premiums and motherhood penalties in career-related outcomes, employers’ discriminatory behaviours are often argued to constitute a possible explanation for observed gender gaps. However, there is as yet no conclusive evidence of such discrimination. Utilizing a field experiment design, we test (i) whether job applicants are subject to recruitment discrimination on the basis of their gender and parenthood status, and (ii) whether discrimination by gender and parenthood is conditional on the qualifications required by the job applied for. We applied for 2,144 jobs in the Swedish labour market, randomly assigning gender and parenthood status to fictitious job applicants. Based on the rate of callbacks, we do not find that employers practise systematic recruitment discrimination on the basis of the job applicants’ gender or parental status, neither in relation to less qualified nor more highly qualified jobs.